Late charges for delinquent rent payments under rental and lease agreements need to be set by statute, just as they are with mortgage payments, and for the same reason: to avoid abusive and excessive late charges in housing. Housing, as a necessity, cannot be subject to punitive extraction by vengeful landlords. Consider a grace period of ten days (mortgage payments currently have a 15-day grace period) with a maximum late charge of the lesser of $35.00 or 5%. Only one late charge may be imposed for any delinquency until it is brought current. A payment made during the month following the nonpayment or late payment is counted as an on-time payment for the next month’s rent, just as with mortgage payments. Thus, late fees do not compound from month to month when the tenant falls one month behind.

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